Tough Love: Standing By Your Dreams

Sometimes life can be a gathering of beautiful and amazing moments, memories, and people all wrapped up in a perfect little box with a bow on it. But most of the time life’s a real b-word,and at one time or another we all get to our breaking points. I haven’t posted, sketched, or done anything remotely creative in almost two months. I haven’t felt that giddiness that fashion or any of my other interests and passions normally fill me with, and its been pretty rough. I’ve been stressed out over some financial issues and extremely exhausted because work isn’t yielding what I’ve been putting into it. I just haven’t been feeling inspired lately.

At about 4:30 this morning my boyfriend called and woke me up and, as expected, after our short convo I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. So I laid there in bed thinking about everything, all at once. Usually that’s a big mistake and only adds to the stress that you’re already feeling. After the back-and-fourth between my emotions and reason I decided I was giving up on fashion and going back to a medical based career. Not because I wanted to, but because I haven’t gotten to where I think I should be. And this magical place where I “should” be isn’t being measured by pacing myself or by the goals I’d set up, but by the accomplishments of my friends and people I know in my field. I decided to quit going after my dreams and do some mediocre job because it was safe. But just as I was about to finalize this throwing in of the towel I ran across an article that changed everything. So if you’re feeling like all hope is lost and giving up is the only option, ask yourself these 10 things before you do:

1. Why did you want to pursue this goal to begin with? Has anything changed?

You had a good reason to committing to this goal. Maybe it was getting enough people in your community more involved and excited about recycling, thus helping the environment. Mine was to help women and girls look and feel beautiful any way I could through fashion. And since then nothing has changed, although I realized men like looking and feeling good as well. Often times guys can feel just as insecure about their appearances as women do, so I made room for them on my list as well.

Odds are you still want those things just as much as you did before, you just stopped believing you could because your efforts have yet to yield the results you’ve been hoping for. You have to ask yourself if you push through the discomfort and feelings of disappointment, will it be worth it in the end.

2. Have you been operating with too much information?

There is so much information at our fingertips thanks to the internet, but sometimes that can do us more harm than help. With all the e-books, blogs, teleconferences, coaching sessions, and user forums its so easy to overwhelm yourself with more knowledge than you can apply.

One of two things usually happen as a result: you spend more time planning to act than acting, or you devote minimal energy to minimal plans instead of committing to one solid approach. I have been so guilty of this, and when the time comes to execute what I’ve been planning I’m too overwhelmed to actually do it. Instead of drowning in tons of information, try narrowing it down and start again from a less overwhelming space.

3. Did you set a smart goal?

SMART goals are:

Specific— you know exactly what your world will look like when you achieve this goal.

Measurable— you have a specific plan to mark your progress as you go.

Attainable— you have the attitude and aptitude to make your goal a reality.

Realistic— you’re willing and able to do the required work.

Time-bound— you’ve set a concrete time frame for completion to create a sense of urgency.

If your goals aren’t SMART then you’re setting yourself up for failure, trust me. How could you possibly achieve anything without knowing exactly what you want, or the belief that you could do it? Are you really ready to walk away from your dreams without giving yourself every opportunity to succeed?

4. What’s the worst that can happen if you keep going and not reach your goal?

When I want to give up on something its usually because I’m afraid of failing. Then I think about how other people will be disappointed in me or judge me, or afraid that I’ll have wasted my time. In reality, no one ever judges us like we judge ourselves, and we always grow and learn through the process of striving, regardless of the outcome. If you don’t keep going, you’ll never know how far you could’ve gone, or the person you’ve become through the effort alone. If you do keep going you’ll still land among the stars, even if you don’t quite make it to the moon.

5. Are you afraid of succeeding?

I am a person that likes responsibility until it becomes to be too much. There are tons of things I’d love to do, but I hold off on doing them because I don’t want the power and responsibility to impact, hurt, or disappoint other people. Sometimes I get a little freaked out about what achieving my goals will entail. What if I accomplish something spectacular and nothing else I do compares to it? What if I let those who follow my work down?

If you can relate to this feeling then the following mantra is for you: great power comes with great responsibility, but it also brings great rewards. Make a habit of repeating this to yourself daily, soon it’ll go from being a mantra to being an affirmation. And that is when you’ll see things start to change, because positive thoughts created positive results. If you play it safe you won’t hurt or disappoint anyone, but you also won’t help or inspire anyone. And equally important, you won’t help or inspire yourself.

6. Are you acting on impulse or emotion rather than thinking things through?

Sometimes our emotions give us hints about what we want and what we should do, but other times they’re just responses to stress, and maybe even indications we’re on the right track. But if you act in that moment of intense emotion— be it fear, anger, or frustration— you may regret it once the dust has settled.

So sit back. Take note of what you’re feeling. Feel it fully, without judging it or yourself. Then act when you’ve gotten to the other side. That way you’ll know you made your decision with a clear head.

7. Would you enjoy giving a loved one the honest explanation of why you gave up?

And I mean honest.

Would you tell your child, “I gave up on losing the weight because my emotional connection to food is more important to me than making sure I have more golden years to spend with you”?

Would it be fun to tell your mother “I decided not to go to school because I’d rather spend all my time with my boyfriend of three months then prepare for a career that will ensure I won’t end up jobless and homeless?”

“I know you guys have been supporting me through all this. But I’ve decided to give up pursuing a career in fashion because I’ve been trying and trying and I haven’t styled for a famous magazine, attended any fashion shows in New York or abroad, or reached a blogging audience of 15,000 yet. So yeah, I quit.”

How could I say that to my family and friends without feeling like a total jackass? Or being one for that matter. I had a great reason for wanting to do all of this and none of them were for the reasons that were just stated. Granted experiencing any one of those would be amazing, and they very well may happen one day, but they aren’t the focal points of my mission. Once I recognized this none of that crap seemed as important anymore. My success isn’t measured by the number of shows I’ve done or hits I’ve gotten on my blog. Knowing that there are people out there that value my opinion enough to read my blog or ask me to style them for events, dates, or vacations because of this blog is my definition of success. People that I would’ve never dreamed that would value anything I say read my blogs, follow me on Instagram, and favorite my tweets on Twitter and I think that is so dope. Why would I give that up just because the road I’m on got a little rough?

8. Would your life be better if you gave up on this goal?

I know it doesn’t sound super motivational, but sometimes giving up is a good thing. Maybe you set a completely unrealistic goal and not achieving it has gotten you feeling anxious and inadequate. Or maybe your goal isn’t in the best interest of yours or a loved one and it’d be best to get out before you become too invested to pull out. You could easily use this as a justification to delude yourself, so think about it carefully. Is this goal really a good thing, when you weigh all the consequences of its fulfillment?

9. How much have you already put in?

A concept in psychology called “the sunk cost principle” indicates the more we’ve invested in something, the less likely we are to prematurely walk away. How invested are you in this dream? How much money and time have you devoted? How many sacrifices have you made? Are you really willing to chalk it all up as a loss because you’re not feeling confident in your abilities?

10. What would you tell someone else if they were in your shoes?

Would you tell your best friend to give up because there was no possible way she could reach her goal? Would it be wise to tell my baby sister, who’s a senior in high school, to just give up on college because its a debt inducing scam? And once she gets her degree she probably won’t get a job in her field anyway because the economy stinks to high hell?

A good friend, or older sibling, would practice their finest motivational speech and help her see what they see in her potential. So why not do the same for yourself? As cheesy as it sounds, you need to be your own best friend. You, more than anyone in this world, deserve your belief and motivation. If you’ve gone through all these questions and still feel resolute about the decision to give up, you have my blessing to abandon your goal. And if you don’t, keep working towards that dream that fills you with passion.

Take a different approach if you need to. Enlist new assistance. Scale back your time commitment to something you can more easily maintain. Maybe take a break at the onset of feeling overwhelmed or anxious. But whatever you do, don’t give yourself a reason to one day utter the words, “I quit because I was scared.” Which is what I chose not to do.